Buckle up! OPP launch Easter long weekend seatbelt campaign

The OPP’s Easter long weekend seatbelt campaign starts Friday and runs until Monday.

Ahead of the campaign, provincial police have released statistics that show of the 542 people who died between 2012 and 2021 in collisions in which lack of seatbelt use was a factor in their deaths, those occupants between the ages of 25 and 34 had the highest rate of fatalities, accounting for 24 per cent of the deaths. The 15 to 24 year age bracket was the second-highest group, at 22.3 per cent, followed by 35 to 44 year-olds at 13.5 per cent of those who died without wearing seatbelts.

Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says last weekend was a horrible example of what happens when vehicle occupants aren’t buckled up.

“Last weekend, there were three very serious collisions, with two people killed and one person seriously injured. All three of them were not wearing a seatbelt, and all three of them were ejected from their vehicle as their car began to tumble.”

Police say while the majority of road users understand that seatbelts save lives, there is still no shortage of excuses some people use for not buckling up. The excuses range from only driving a short distance or at low speeds, seatbelts being uncomfortable or no longer needed because of airbags, to the myth that wearing a seatbelt will trap a person and make things worse during a crash.

“I’ll tell you, I’ve never seen someone who is trapped in their vehicle because they can’t get out of their seatbelt,” says Schmidt. “That seatbelt is the best piece of insurance. You can’t just rely on the crumple zones, the anti-lock and traction control, and the airbag.”

Police note that airbags are designed to work with but not replace a seatbelt. An airbag deploying in front of or beside an unbuckled driver or passenger during a collision can result in serious injuries and even death.

File photo – Barrie 360

Schmidt says drivers are reminded they are required by law to ensure they have proper and properly installed child car seats for babies, toddlers and small children.

He adds that everyone in the vehicle is responsible for their own seatbelt unless the occupant is under the age of 16, and then it is the responsibility of the driver.

In 2021, 47 people were killed in OPP-investigated motor vehicle collisions in which failure to wear a seatbelt was a factor in the deaths.

The OPP has laid close to 1,000 seatbelt charges so far this year.

If charged and convicted of failing to wear a seatbelt, fines can range between $200 and $1,000, as well as two demerit points.